What made the apostle Paul really angry?
Updated: Oct 15, 2022
“You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a spell on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.
Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!” (Gal. 3:1-4 MSG).
Paul had written many letters to remind Christian believers of how they should behave. He dealt sternly with shocking immorality and idolatry in his letters to the Corinthians but it was only when he wrote to the Galatians that he exploded and called them stupid, thoughtless and superficial idiots who were enslaved by witchcraft. Why?
Well, the Galatians were into saving themselves by their good works. Man endeavours to save himself from making changes to the outside. The things you can see. The things you can do. But God makes changes to the inside of us.
The Galatians had ignored the simple Gospel that Jesus had died for them. They refused to believe that Jesus was their Saviour. Their substitute. The Galatians were busy keeping laws and rules and had forgotten what Jesus had done for them.
We all have our pathways to discovering that our actions are useless to save ourselves and that Jesus is our Saviour. Here’s the verse that transformed me from being a legalist and believing I had to save myself into believing that Jesus, alone, redeemed me:
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph. 2:8-10).
It’s too easy to fall into the trap of changing how we should dress. If we should wear head coverings. Who we are allowed to marry. How often we should attend church. Who we should associate with. How we should be educated. How women should be treated. How often we should read the Bible. What doctrines we must believe to be saved!
All of those rules will only make us fearful of God. Was I good enough? Did I do enough to get myself saved? Were my doctrines 100% correct? Will Jesus accept me at the judgment seat?
I read that verse in Ephesians over and over and over again. For me to accept what had been written had a huge cost. I would lose every association I had ever known. My friends, family and entire social network would no longer mingle with me.
The Biblical words couldn’t be denied. I was saved. Perfect tense in the Greek. I was saved in the past. I was saved in the present. I was saved in the future. What’s more—the voice was passive. I had been saved by someone else, not what I could believe, say or do. I couldn’t save myself because someone else had done it for me.
Here was the simple gospel that transforms lives, and transformed mine. No wonder it is called the “good news” for the gospel sets us free from all our fears, insecurities and pain.
“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”(John 8:36).
“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”(Gal. 5:1).
All Bible quotes (unless otherwise noted) are from the NLT.